2007 Laws of the Sport of Bowls
...that every lawn bowler needs to know
An honored tradition of Bowls is that every player knows and applies the rules themselves. Recently, the practice of this tradition has declined, especially in the USA. As violations become increasingly common, other bowlers, especially novices, get the message that "it’s OK to violate rules because nobody really cares and nothing will be done." Over time such dereliction moves the sport further and further from the true game of Bowls.

Most lawn bowlers play only at their Clubs and no one is anxious for the daily draw games to be rigidly policed. But in tournaments, even at a Club, clear, definitive rules that objectively guide and govern the vast range of strange things that can happen in a match....is indeed wanted, needed, and appreciated. Bowls cannot survive with a set of laws for the daily draw and another set for tournaments.

This summary discusses only a small portion of the Laws. And some “language short-cuts” have also been taken. As every bowler continues along his or her pathway of increased skill and increased enjoyment, the Laws of the game become easier to read, understand and remember. Learning the Laws explained here will give you an excellent foundation for getting maximum enjoyment from your game. Remember, only you can honor the Laws and preserve the integrity of the Sport.

First, some definitions….(pp 7 - 10) Note: J/B means jack or bowl; “should” and/or “will” means “it’s compulsory.”

Bias…the curved path along which a bowl travels
Delivery…deliberately releasing a J/B. If it accidentally slips, a player can pick it up and start the delivery again.
Displaced…moved in a way not approved within the LOTSOBs.
Disturbed…altering the position of a J/B in the head
Head…the jack and any bowls on the rink that are not dead.
In its original course…a J/B from the time of its delivery until it comes to rest.
In motion…a J/B which is moving during play after it has been at rest as part of the head.
Mat line…the edge of the mat nearest the front ditch.
Rear Ditch…the ditch that is behind you when you’re on the mat.

Cell phones, used to make or receive phone calls during a game are a violation of Possession of the Rink and are subject to the same penalties as discussed in Law 35. Law 65 p. 60. (This law applies only in the U.S.)

Dead Bowl A bowl is dead if…it is not a toucher and rebounds onto the rink; or, comes to rest less than 14 meters from the mat line; or it is delivered on the WRONG BIAS and leaves the rink over a side boundary. Law 27.1 p 30.

Dead Ends… following declaration of a dead end, any bowls or the jack which must move to the other end to replay the end must be “carried” or raked but may not be rolled. Law 31.3 p. 36.

Displacement of a bowl in its original course that has not disturbed the head before it is displaced, if displaced by an opponent, the skip of the team that played the bowl must choose whether to (a) have the bowl replayed; (b) place the bowl where the skip believes it would have come to rest; or (c) leave the bowl where it came to rest. Law 28.1.1 [third] o p. 31.

Displaced Bowl in Course…if it disturbs the head after it was displaced (but not before), the skip of the team that played the bowl must choose: a) replace the head and have the bowl replayed; b) replace the head and place the bowl where the skip believes it would have come to rest; or c) declare the end dead. Law 28.1 1 [fourth] o p. 31.

Displacement of a Bowl while Marking or Measuring, if moved by a player (or his equipment), should be replaced by the opposing player; if it was moved by the umpire, it should be replaced by the umpire. If a marker causes the movement, the former position should be agreed to by the opponents. Law 28.4.1,2,3 p. 34.
Note, Bowl Displacement laws are on pages 31 to 35…there are 7 categories in this section.

Footwear Players, Umpires and Markers should wear flat-soled (‘heel-less’) footwear when they play on the green or act as umpires or markers. Appendix A.2 p. 52.

“Hammer” Rule… The winner of the end (on all ends after the first,) shall choose which team places the mat and delivers the jack for the next end. The team that does not deliver the jack is said to have the “hammer,” and is responsible for raking the bowls for the end just completed and should also mark the scoreboard. Law 18.4 p. 25 and Law 69, p. 61.

Measuring… Is suggested to be done by the team conceding shot(s). Law 68 p. 61.

Measuring Jack Distance… to determine if the jack delivery is long enough, the entire jack must be beyond the minimally required distance of 75’ 5 ½” (23 meters). Page 58 Appendix B.4.2 (Chart)

Players and Their Duties Law 37 p. 40.

will have sole charge of the team and all players in the team should follow the skip’s instructions.
        (.2) should decide all disputed points with the opposing skip, making sure all decisions are in line with the LOTSOBs.
        (.7) in a pairs game should act as scorer.
        (.8) can delegate any of their powers or duties (except .7,) to any member of his/her team as long as they tell the opposing skip.
measures any and all disputed shots.
is responsible for the score card. Should enter the names of all players of both teams, record all shots scored, and at the end of the game, hand the scorecard to the skip who should record the time the game finished and then sign it
shall place the mat, deliver the jack, and ensure it’s properly centered before rolling the end’s first bowl.
Playing Out of Turn
  (.1) If someone plays out of turn, the opposing skip can stop the bowl and return it to be played in the proper order.
  (.2) If the bowl has come to rest and without disturbing the head, the opposing skip should choose whether to: have their team play two consecutive bowls to get back to the proper order of play; or return the bowl for a re-roll.
  (.3) If the bowl has disturbed the head, the opposing skip should choose whether to:
    a) leave the disturbed head as is, and have his team play two consecutive bowls;
b) replace the head in its former position, return the bowl and go back to the proper order of play; or
c) declare the end dead. Law 47.1 p. 45.
Position of Players Law 36 p. 39.
  (.1) Players at the mat end who are not delivering a bowl should stand at least 3 feet (1 meter) behind the mat.
  (.2) Players at the head end of the rink who are not controlling play should stand behind the jack and away from the head or on the bank if the jack is within 6 ½ feet of (or in) the ditch.
  (.3) As soon as a bowl is delivered, a player who is controlling play…should take his/her position as above.

Position on the Mat Before delivery a player should be standing on the mat with one foot fully on the mat. As they release the jack or a bowl, the player should have all or part of one foot on or above the mat. Law 20 p. 27.

Possession of the Rink Law 35 p. 39.
  (.1) Possession of the rink shall belong to the player or team whose bowl is being played.
  (.2) As soon as each bowl comes to rest, possession of the rink will transfer to the opposing team after allowing time for marking a toucher. Players in possession of the Rink shall not be interfered with, annoyed, or have their attention distracted in any way. After a warning, the penalty could be: dead bowl; or replace the head, leave the head as altered; or declare the end dead.

Rinks Adjacent… to the rink where you are playing a match may not be walked upon by a player while the other team is delivering, or is about to deliver their bowl. Law 36.2 p. 39.

Time limits… A player has only 1 minute to deliver his or her bowl. Law 66 p. 60.

Touchers in the Ditch or a jack in the ditch should have their locations noted by an object on the bank and outlines of their positions made in the sand. Law 24.4 p. 29 and Law 29.2 p. 35.

Trial ends are not the start of a match. Bowls from different sets may be used during trial ends. Law 18.1.5 p. 25.

Violations can’t be prevented by Clubs, Divisions, Umpires, or the USLBA.

Only YOU can make a commitment to follow the rules.

Southwest Lawn Bowls Association, USLBA Intermediate Bowls Workshop, Instructor Conrad Melton Revised July 10, 2009